On June 18, 2003, CNES President & CEO, Yannick d’Escatha and NASA Administrator, Sean O’Keefe met at CNES headquarters in Paris. During this bilateral meeting, the two agency heads signed the Memorandum Of Understanding for the Calipso earth observation mission.

Our understanding and consequently our forecasting of the Earth’s global climate are currently limited by lack of knowledge on the radiative impact of clouds and aerosols. The CALIPSO mission (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infra-Red Pathfinder Satellite Observations) aims to provide the first set of data on vertical profiles of the atmosphere, to be measured by the first satellite-borne backscatter lidar.

Calipso will fly in formation with two other American missions, AQUA and CLOUDSAT, and also with the French microsatellite, PARASOL. Together, these satellites will form an exceptional space-based observatory, ‘the Aqua train’, placed in a sun synchronous orbit at altitude of 705 km, and equipped for all active and passive measurement techniques. AQUA was launched in April 2002 with a nominal lifetime of 5 years. PARASOL will be launched in October 2004. CALIPSO and CLOUDSAT should be put into orbit by a Delta 2 launcher in November 2004 .

The project is being conducted in cooperation with NASA which is responsible for the mission and the overall system and which is also providing the payload and the launcher. CNES is responsible for the satellite and its control and is providing the satellite bus (under contract with Alcatel Space) and the infrared imaging radiometer (under contract with SODERN). The science operations site has been developed by NASA while CNES is in charge of the expertise site for the infrared imaging radiometer. The Aqua train data will be analysed and processed at the new ICARE centre (Interactions Clouds Aerosols Radiations Etc) based in Lille, which CNES has developed with its French partners for studying clouds, aerosols and solar rays.

After Jason 1, which has been in orbit since December 2001, this satellite will also be flying a PROTEUS bus and will carry three instruments: an infrared lidar which is the main instrument, equipped with a 1-metre telescope, a wide-field camera working in the visible range and a thermal infrared imager with three channels. The infrared imaging radiometer was delivered by CNES to NASA for integration in the payload on April 2003. The bus and the payload are now being integrated and tested respectively in France and the United States.

The ground segments are currently being developed, the CNES station in Kiruna is in the final acceptance stage and CNES and NASA will conduct the first assembly tests this fall.

The ground and operation system should be commissioned during the summer of 2004.

This sustainable development project marks a significant new step in French/American cooperation in the field of Earth observation.

Contact Presse :

Eliane Moreaux – tél. : 05 61 27 33 44 – fax : 05 61 28 21 47

e-mail : eliane.moreaux@cnes.fr

Sites Internet du CNES : www.cnes.fr  et www.cnes-tv.net